A friend of mine has to undergo general anesthesia for oral surgery tomorrow.

How safe are these techniques? Is is possible there will not be able to revive him? Do dental surgeons use an MD as the anesthesiologist?

Are you sure it’s general? I think most oral surgery is done with “twilight sedation” - you’re out of it - unconscious or close to it at least - but not under general anaesthesia. General anaesthesia means you’re out so hard that a machine is breathing for you, and that does come with some (small) dangers. Twilight sedation is not nearly as dangerous. I think a lot of people don’t recognize the difference between the two states.

No, I’m not sure. I’m certainly glad that the procedure may not be as dangerous as I have thought.

I don’t know the answers but I do know it is important to ask for a written treatment plan, a copy of the file at each visit, and seek additional opinions before having any dental treatment. PHLT

As far as I can tell in Texas, it is the dentist that administers sedation. While they may not be a medical doctor, they are a doctor. There are also further licensing requirements above and beyond being a DDS.

I would guess, then (this is me going into WAG territory) that dentists can’t use general anaesthesia, because I doubt a dentist could possibly be certified to do that; I’m sure an anaesthesiologist is required; the expertise to maintain a body that’s so far out of it is considerable.

Your historical tangent of the day:

The word “anesthesia” was coined by author and physician Oliver Wendell Holmes, father of the U.S. Supreme Court justice, in the 1840s.

Now back to our show…

IME in insurance, if a patient requires GA for dental work, it’s done at a surgical center with either an anesthesiologist or a nurse-anesthetist. But I’ve only seen this once, in a patient with extensive periodontal disease. (FWIW, the anesthesia was paid under his medical and the dental part was paid under his dental. Fun times, that.)


When I had my wisdom teeth out, this was one question I looked into. Both local anasthesia and what the oral surgeon was calling general anasthesia (but which was probably actually twilight) did have some small risk of death (I believe the number I found was somewhere around 1 in 50,000). Perhaps surprisingly, the risk was actually slightly higher for the local. This is partly explained, of course, by the fact that a person at greater risk due to pre-existing health conditions would probably be given the local rather than the (general/twilight), but it still shows that it’s pretty safe.